The greatest city in the world has some of the best food in the world. Despite living so close to and often visiting Manhattan, I don’t consider myself very knowledgeable on the best places to eat. It’s overwhelming how much there is to choose from. Taking a food tour of New York never occurred to me until I was contacted by New York Food Tours and offered “The Ultimate New York Food and Culture Tour” in the West Village. The tour included bounds of information as well as tastings of cannolis, pizza, falafels and of course, a visit to Peanut Butter & Co. Can you tell the difference between The Peanut Butter Boy and The Peanut Allergic Boy above?
Elisabeth, myself and our newlywed friends Clare and Josh embarked on our food tour on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon. It was in front of John’s pizzeria that we met our tour guide “Candy”. After a brief discussion of some legendary pizza as well as our food preferences/allergies, our tour guide led us on our way. Our first stop was a visit to Murray’s cheese shop – an incredible store with every kind of cheese you could imagine and even some you couldn’t. We didn’t try any cheeses though because we needed to save room for what was to come.
Dessert before dinner never sounded sweeter with a visit to Rocco’s to try quite possibly the best cannolis in the city which, naturally, are freshly stuffed right in front of you.
As if they don’t look good enough, here’s our group enjoying them. I believe Clare (purple shirt) is in the midst of a long “Mmmmm”.
Next up was a stop to Famous Joe’s Pizza. This tiny shop was no bigger than a college dorm room yet was supposedly one of the top pizza places in Manhattan. What’s so special about it? First and foremost was the crust. The crust was outstanding, very thin but at the same time perfectly crispy and chewy. The cheese was cooked just right – unlike a banana, the brown spots on the cheese make it taste better. And the sauce was unlike any sauce I’ve had before on a pizza. The sauce seemed to be cooked less than most judging by the fact that it wasn’t as deep red in color and tasted much more like fresh tomatoes. Overall it was an outstanding slice of pizza. And if for some reason you think Ben Affleck is a food expert, apparently it’s his favorite slice of pizza.
Afterwards, we heard about the different “Papaya” chains in the city which offer some of the best hot dogs as well as papaya drinks, neither of which we tasted nor have I had before. But no complaints from me, compared to everything else we ate, hot dogs were the least of my concern.
Featured below is our guide Candy giving us the inside scoop on New York hot dogs. The most interesting thing I learned is that all the hot dog places with “Papaya” in their name as well as the hot dog vendors on the street get their hot dogs from the same source, they just cook them differently. Don’t mind me, I tend to give creepy looks all the time.
Our next tasting was planned to be a top-rated food truck with halal food. Unfortunately the truck wasn’t there, but in it’s place was a taco truck. We each got a tostada that was quite delicious. The carne asada had a few too many bits of fat and grizzle but was otherwise delicious. Perhaps I should have went with the goat tostada like Josh did…..nope, I’m still glad I went with the carne asada.
At this point we began to get a little full, yet our next stop was the Peanut Butter & Co sandwich shop. There we got one of my favorite sandwiches – a spicy peanut butter, grilled chicken and pineapple jam sandwich. I wound up eating half of the sandwich since Elisabeth doesn’t like cold chicken (what?) and Josh is allergic enough to peanuts that he couldn’t go in the store – hence the sadness you see at the very top of this page. I was stuffed.
Next, we headed to Mamoun’s Falafel for an outstanding falafel sandwich that was small but delicious and packed with flavor. Just be careful when loading on the hot sauce, that stuff is potent! Elisabeth was happy here, she likes falafels – then again, she likes anything fried.
And to top it all off, we finished with some cupcakes from Sweet Revenge. More a coffee shop and cafe, this cozy little place has a small display of deliciously unique cupcakes. Eli and I opted for the “Sweet Revenge” with a peanut butter cake, chocolate ganache center and peanut butter frosting. Clare and Josh chose the “Dirty” which is basically chocolate with chocolate and chocolate. There was no way we were going to eat them right there, we were too full. So we each took a small bite (fantastic!) and took the rest to go.
Thus concluded our food-filled afternoon in the West Village of New York. It was a great experience, I got to try so many new places I had never been or noticed before. Thanks Candy and New York Food Tours! Visit their website for more info, tour times and prices. It’s a great idea for visitors and residents alike!